I don’t know why I’ve waited so long to feature this set. It’s one of the best Vintage Vending collections yet!
The “Magic Tricks and Jokes” assortment is like an old Johnson Smith ad come to life. The collective charm far outweighs the fact that every item on the card is a hunk of junk, at least in the practical sense. (Even the truly neat items were miniaturized to the point of pointlessness, unless your head really is tiny enough to don Groucho glasses with a three-inch diameter.)
The set is from 1987 – right within the era of the legendary “50 cents each” ads that waited inside so many comic books and kiddy magazines, offering the full-sized versions of these tiny treasures.
I don’t know if I can truthfully say that squirt flowers and phony vampire fangs were ever “all the rage,” but if you were going to pick a year to turn them into vending machine fodder, you could do a lot worse than 1987.
My favorite item is this wonderful “Third Eye.” Like all other ancient plastic third eyes, it might pass better as a second vagina.
I love that bald guy illustration. He’s insanely happy about his little trick! My only complaint is that his “subtle” skull scratching is totally unnecessary. Would you really need to work that hard to draw attention to a third eye?
Ah, the old trick knife. You know the score. The plastic blade harmlessly retreats into the handle no matter what you stab. Even if it didn’t, that shit is too dull to hurt anybody with.
I had one of these in the third grade. Mine looked much more like a real knife, and I sure loved stabbing my classmates with it. Could you imagine trying that in 2013?
I didn’t know who this “Groucho Marx” was a kid, but I went through at least ten pairs of his stupid disguise glasses. The best of them had fuzzy mustaches and eyebrows, so it felt less like a tribute to Groucho and more like you had big fake caterpillars crawling all over your face. That was the appeal!
This pair is weak by comparison, and not just because it lacks the caterpillars. There’s nothing in the photo to give you a true sense of size, but you’d have trouble fitting these glasses over your hand, let alone your head.
The bright side? In my mad mental dash to conjure any justification for Groucho glasses in this scale, I ended up with a really great coconut.
The squirt flower was one of the worst of the classic pranks. Even the high-end ones looked nothing like real flowers. They barely looked like fake flowers.
The cheaper you went, the worse the effect. In this case, it’s not so much a squirting flower as a squirting fish tank decoration. Judging by the size of the bulb, you’d be able to spray just enough water to make Aunt Lorna think she’d been pissed on by a bee.
“Monster Bolts” had hidden suction cups, which in theory allowed them to be affixed to a person’s neck. I say “in theory” because neck skin is stubborn, and I can’t imagine any low-grade suction cup besting it a battle of wits.
The greatest thing about this isn’t the bolt itself, but the little card underneath it. Since I already had to pry everything apart to make that Groucho coconut, I may as well show you this, too.
Aha! So that’s the trick. Circumventing the “neck skin” issue, you’re supposed to stick these monster bolts to your temples. That sounds okay.
I also like that they didn’t go with a too-obvious Frankenstein’s Monster for the illustration. Instead we got a flamingo pink demon wearing a knit beanie. If you don’t find that to be an improvement, I will kill you.
I vaguely remember this trick, but I can’t recall the specifics. All I know is that those plastic thimbles would make an amazing set of action figure glasses.
(Especially if the adventure involved a birthday party. These look like party cups to me. Last one to the table gets the shitty lavender glass.)
Ugh, this thing. It comes in many forms, but they’re all basically the same. You’re meant to amaze your friends by separating the connected metal pieces.
I hated this trick. There weren’t many additional play opportunities involved with small, oddly-shaped chunks of metal. If this came out of the vending machine, I’d use voodoo magic to grow an aardvark tongue, just so I could fish my quarter back out. Then the asshole behind me would say, “Why not use the new tongue to steal a better prize?”
Nosy people should die.
This spin on the “vampire fangs” gag only sucks because it’s so small. In every other way, it’s glorious. From the haunting green color, to the fact that there are actual shark-like ROWS of teeth, this item is a mere two inches away from my hand in marriage.
Look what I found hiding underneath the samples. Apparently, along with the tiny teeth and trick knives, you might have received rubber bugs. Which they called “varmits.” Which is fantastic.
Would it be wrong to give this collection a perfect score when I’ve complained endlessly about nearly everything it included? Possibly.
10 out of 10.